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The end of military service in Germany: in a few months

(credit: Bundeswehr)

The abolition (or rather suspension) of conscription in Germany is entering its implementation phase. The commitment will now be based on a voluntary basis. The German Minister of Defense, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, announced, Monday in Dresden (1), a precise date: July 1 2011. Which is pretty quick. But that's not really a surprise. German Youth Minister Kristina Schröder has already taken the lead over her Defense colleague. Last week, she presented a bill creating a new voluntary service which will replace civilian service as an alternative to military service from July 2011.

I need your trust,
for your loyalty and participation!

military volunteering

It was time for conscription, which was on its way. Of 145.000 soldiers held in compulsory service in 2000, less than half are doing so today. And the shortening of the duration of conscription to six months no longer meant anything in operational terms, according to the military, without taking into account the costs of training and general expenses which weighed on the army.

At the end of the reform, the Bundeswehr, which officially numbers 240.000 people today, will only have around 180.000 (a military report published earlier in the year, cited by Spiegel, spoke of a higher figure). bottom: 163.500 soldiers). Military service is not, however, abolished; it will remain enshrined in the Fundamental Law and simply suspended (according to the same formula as for the abandonment of conscription in France).

This is not the only element of the reform. On the minister's program: the overhaul of the map of German military bases, with the elimination of certain barracks as well as the elimination of at least 2000 jobs, military or civilian, at the ministry. This restructuring should be spread over two years. Savings to be expected, according to the ministry: 500 million euros annually.

Suffice to say that the armies will taste... And the inspector general of the armies, General Volker Wieker, also present in Dresden, to present the reform project to the 300 officials, did not hesitate, at the end of his speech, to call for discipline I need your trust, your loyalty and your participation!.

Dresden Conference (credit: Bundeswehr)

Civil volunteering

According to the bill presented by Minister Schröder, this civil volunteering will be accessible to all Germans who have fulfilled the compulsory education requirement, including women and seniors. 35.000 volunteer places per year would be available. It will be carried out full-time (1 year), part-time for the others (2 years). Or for only six months in certain cases. Each volunteer will receive approximately a “balance” of 550 euros, covering both basic needs and pocket money. Germany already has two types of voluntary services: social volunteering (FSD) and ecological volunteering (FÖJ), lasting one year and open to young people under 26 years old.

(1) See the summary of the intervention of the Minister of Defense (in German) on the Bundeswehr website

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).